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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Christobel Ouko (Kenya Betrayed)

I was the first to recover. I tiptoed to the peephole and took a peek. I saw a middle-aged man. He was in a red T-shirt, a new blue pair of Jeans. He wore really dark shades. Who was he?

Unsure that his mission was, I asked, “Who are you? Are you sure, you are at the right address?”

The man said, “Mrs. Marianne Briner-Mattern? I am from a special courier service - I have a message for you.”

“From where?”

“Please open the door.”

Philipp shook his head vigorously, “Don’t!”

Of course, I was not going to open, but I had to find a way to get to know what this message was.

“Do you want your message or not?” the man pressed.

I finally decided to open the door.

“Look I have been sent to deliver this,” the man said and handed me an envelope.
“Sent by whom?” I asked.

But he did not reply. He just handed me the envelope, then turned and left.

Sandra and Philipp watched the closed-circuit TV as the man left. They saw him walk away. Within seconds he was gone.

*****************************************

It was 11:30 a.m. when Biwott arrived in Kabarnet Gardens. This morning the former Head of State had no visitors. In fact, once news of Marianne’s Summon had broken, he had cleared his desk. He was not going to deal with any other issue but this.
The minute Biwott’s driver brought the Mercedes Benz 500 S to a dist-trailing halt in front of Moi’s sprawling country home, he immediately opened the door and stepped out instructing his security details to stay behind. They were former Mossad officers from Israel whom he had hired since he did not trust Africans with his security.

Biwott hurried to the front door and knocked.

Moi, eager to hear what his devious cousin wanted to discuss, opened himself. He quickly led him through the hallway and brought him directly to his study.

Unlike his living room, this study looked rather serious. The desk in here was curved out of mahogany. The black swivel chair was leather. The wall had only to pictures - one of his grandchildren - and the other showing him inspecting a Guard of Honor during a State Visit to London. Those were the only pictures that still meant something to him.

He invited Biwott to sit down, then went straight to the heart of the matter, “What do you want us to do? What can we do?”

Biwott cleared his throat. He felt sad that it took the threat of Marianne’s return to Kenya to get them together again. He remembered the days he used to visit this man at the State House. How they used to strategize together. Run the country together.

He recalled the night he had pleaded with Moi not to give up the Presidency in spite of the constitution requirements. To fight it out, if necessary. “We won’t be able to protect our wealth or the agenda of this nation,” he had warned.

But Moi had only replied, “Don’t worry, I have settled this. If we pass the power to Uhuru, we will be fine.”

But things had turned out different. There was somebody else at State House now. And looking at Moi, Biwott knew just how right he had been. He should have listened to him and followed his advise like so many times before.

“I asked what you want us to do,” Moi repeated.

Biwott leaned forward. He clasped his hands across the desk. Finally, he said, “I have been thinking about Marianne ….. about her coming.”

Cough, “Okay?”

“I have thought of a way to keep her from saying anything damaging.”

Moi held his chin, “Do you really think she will say anything ….. crazy?”

Biwott found his eyes and held, “I am certain.”

He knew what he was talking about. It had been him who had derailed all her efforts not only for the Molasses Plant’s revival, but also for any other project she got involved with.

It had been him who had ensured that Marianne’s messages and phone calls never reached Moi.

And finally it was him who had clandestinely caused the rift between Moi and her, details of which he had never told to anybody, not even to his wife.

What if Moi found out now? If Marianne spoke also about that? This was actually the main reason for him to be worried.

Moi sat back, “So ….. what are your plans?”

“Obviously, we cannot keep her from coming. It is too late for that. And we cannot keep her from talking wither. It is too late for that, too.”

“Which options does that leave us?”

Biwott loosened his tie, “We can put pressure on some Committee members. We can identify two or three of them and have them work for us.”

“How are we going to do that?”

“If you authorize me, if you tell me to set it up, I can go back to Nairobi and talk to the guys we can trust.”

“Like who?”
“The members of our Community.”

Moi smiled. Right there, he remembered why Nick had always been his eyes and ears. Why he was his Mr. Fix-it.

Impressed, he extended his hand across the table and shook Biwott’s. He then said, “You have my blessings. But do it right.”

Bullshit !

As Biwott made his way back to Nairobi, he remembered a crazy guy he used to work with in the past. The man was called Bozo.

Bozo was the most dangerous, vilest creature in all Kenya.

His teeth were brown, a result of years of living off the slopes of Mr. Kenya. He wore frazzled dreadlocks. His clothing consisted of sagging Baxter Jeans and a T-shirt that was once white.

Where has the rascal been during the last years? Biwott wondered.
He fished his cell phone from the pocket, flipped it, then dialed Bozo’s old number.

Hope he didn’t change it.

He hadn’t. He answered immediately. “Hello?”

Biwott laughed, “Bozo?”

Bozo was in his maskan when he answered the call. He had not spoken with Biwott in years. In fact, once Biwott and his team had fallen out of power, relations between him and his former bad boy had suddenly ended. Biwott had ceased calling him.

Till today.

“It has to be big,” Bozo blurted.

Biwott said, “Look, man, I know I have not talked to you in years,” He laughed cynically. “But I hope you understand why I had to be cautious.”

“What do you want?” Bozo asked.

“I want you to come to my office.”

“When?”

“This afternoon.”

“It’s that urgent?”

“I’ll expecting you at four o’clock sharp.” Click…

***

Back in Kabarnet Gardens, the former Head of State dialed his personal attorney’s number. There was an immediate reply, “Hello?”

Cough, “Mutula, we need to talk.”

“Of course, Your Excellency.”

“When are you available?”

“Could be there this afternoon. I come by private plane.”

“Then let me know the exact time. My driver will pick you up.”

“All right.” Click ….

********************************************

“You can’t open that envelop,” Philipp said, hurrying to grab the sugar-paper envelop from me. “You don’t know what could be in it.”

“Let’s open it outside,” I suggested.

We went on the terrace. Once there, I handed the envelope to Philipp, “Open it!”

He took it and looked at it curiously turning it upside down ….. then sideways.

Unable to make out what was in it, he held it away from him, then ripped it open.

There was just a small piece of paper in it.

It only contained a few machine-typed words.

It said, Don’t come to Nairobi !

Sandra took the paper from Philipp. Was there anymore evidence her mother needed to realize how dangerous going to Nairobi was?

Instead of talking, she took a bite …. followed it with a sip of juice.

Philipp looked at Sandra and realized at once how upset she was. He took her hand and gave it a gentle rub. “What’s up, Malaika?”

She looked uneasy, “Don’t try to cheer me up.”

I looked at them with sincere admiration. I thought how lucky my daughter was to have a man like Philipp in her life.

But concerned about my daughter’s worries, I said, “Let me tell you what - I will make special security arrangements before I go.”

Sandra cast a sideway glance, “You promise?”

I nodded, “When I said I was not scared and worried about my safety in Nairobi, I had been lying.”

“Then why are you going at all?” Philipp asked.

For a man who regarded the whole African continent as a wasteland full of corruption, disease and hunger, he just could not understand why his mother-in-law had such a loyalty to Kenya.

What good did she expect to come out of that God-forsaken-continent?

So he smiled at me saying, “Let’s go to Hawaii …… the Bahamas ….. I don’t even mind to go as far as Bali - if I can keep you from going to Nairobi.”

I winked, “My mind is made up, Philipp.”

“So you have decided to go?” Sandra asked.

I nodded.

“But you will keep your promise to make sure that you are safe?”

“I promise.”

Two hours later, Sandra and Philipp hit the road to the Malaga Airport.

They had finally accepted what Biwott and some of the Kenyan politicians Marianne had done battles with in the past had always known.

She was a fighter!

***

Biwott went straight to the Parliament Buildings. He had just come back from Kabarnet Gardens armed with express authority from Moi to target some Committee members who could be ‘peeled off’.

He was ready.

As soon as the Committee broke off for lunch, he went straight to two of them. They were from his Community. He asked them to come for lunch with him.

They did.

At the Intercontinental.

Biwott led them to the roof-top restaurant. He ushered them to a corner that was unofficially always reserved for him. The waiters in here were always careful not to let anybody occupy this space during lunch hour. There was also a separate table for Nick’s security details from where they could watch over him.

“Now, gentlemen,” he said, dropping into his seat, “I have a message from Mzee.”
They nodded.

“He has asked me to tell you to look after his interests.”

One of them asked, “Let’s see, it has been weeks since this Committee began its deliberations. Why should Mzee suddenly feel compelled to have his interests watched? And why send you?”

Biwott ignored the last question. To the first he said, “There are a couple of hostile witnesses slated to appear later this week …..”

“You mean Mrs. Marianne Briner-Mattern?” one asked.

Biwott nodded, “Yes – and Christabel Ouko.”

“So what do you want us specifically to do?”

He cleared his throat. “The most dangerous of the two women is Marianne. We have tried to stop her from coming ….. it failed. We have tried to limit the scope of her testimony ….. that failed too. So now we have only one more option.”

“What’s that?”

“You guys will have to act - together with Mutula - as Moi’s protectors. You will also have to look out for me. Whenever anything comes up that could embarrass Mzee …. or me …. stop it cold on its tracks. Don’t let Marianne say anything outside of what came already out at the Gicheru Inquiry of the Troon mess. That’s your assignment.”

One of the Committee members, a normally quiet man on a wheelchair, fidgeted. He hated that it was Nick delivering this message. Why had Moi chosen to work with this rascal again?

Only three months ago, he remembered campaigning against Biwott when the position of chairman of KANU was up for grabs. He had campaigned for Biwott’s opponent. Voted for Biwott’s opponent. And essentially written Biwott’s political obituary. Why was Moi resurrecting this monster?

Unable to keep his cool, he said, “Mzee should have picked a better messenger.”

Biwott’s eyes hardened, “Meaning?”

“Go to hell,” the reply was, “Kenya has had enough of you. If you killed Dr. Ouko, you should own up ….. ask the Nation to forgive you.”

Biwott could not believe this fool, “Are you ….. crazy?”

“You are carzy,” the man shot back. “You are responsible for all the horrible things that have happened in this country for more than two decades. You messed up things for Moi and for our party.•

He then slapped a stern look at Nick, “Frankly, Nicholas Biwott, I don’t understand why Mzee sent you to us. I, for one, will not do your bidding. I will watch for Mzee ….. as for you, you can just catch a ride to hell.”

Biwott laughed, “I don’t care what you think. Just make sure you don’t let anything come out of that Committee that Mzee won’t like. In case you have forgotten, Mzee and I still call the shots in the Rift Valley. We can make your life a nightmare.”

The water came around and asked what they would like to eat.

They shook their heads. No thanks!

Biwott turned right back to them. He said, “Like I said, don’t let Marianne say a thing. As for Christabel - judging by how reluctant she has been to appear before the Committee – I think we have nothing to worry about…… but just in case she gets tempted, do your part.”

That did it. Biwott stood up and left.

They were all looking at each other: it was so bizarre ……

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